We got to Edinburgh on Saturday afternoon, checked into our hotel and went for what was supposed to be a little stroll down to the start/finish area to make sure I wouldn't get lost the next morning. The "short" stroll actually turned into a mammoth hike up and down most of Edinburgh's many hills (it turns out I'm rubbish at booking hotels that are close to start lines - it looked close on the map!) but we eventually made it to Holyrood Park and checked out the lie of the land before wandering back up the Royal Mile to carb-load on pasta at Bella Italia. Then we caught a cab back to the hotel, and chatted to the driver about his experience running the Edinburgh marathon in 1982. His advice - don't go off too fast!
After a restless night my alarm woke me at the distinctly un-Sunday-ish time of 6:45. I left Lovely Husband sleeping and took myself down for breakfast, where I failed magnificently in my bid to force some porridge down. Normally my favourite breakfast, I just didn't fancy it that morning. I managed a bit of yoghurt and half a cup of tea and then woke Lovely Husband up, pinned on my race number and we headed off!
Trying to make up for my lack of breakfast I nibbled on half a Cliff bar on the way to the start, and made it there in time for a quick portaloo stop before nipping into the back of the white wave pen just in time for the start of the wave. As I crossed the start line, the only thing I could think about was the taxi driver's advice, so I slowed right down and let the entire wave pass me - I was literally right at the back. We set off around Holyrood Park and up the first hill - a nice gentle one to lull us into a false sense of security. I knew Lovely Husband was going to be waiting around the 2-mile mark and, sure enough, there he was, camera poised, just before the mile marker. I posed for photos as best I could while running, and then headed off towards one of the two really steep hills, up Cannongate. I was so happy to be able to keep my speed going up the hill, even though runners from the wave behind me were starting to catch me up and overtake me by this point.
My favourite part of the course came next - past the Scott Memorial and the National Art Gallery before heading to Greyfriars to meet Greyfriar's Bobby. A man running alongside me, who must have been in his 70s at least, made a quick detour to give Bobby a pat as we ran past - I didn't need to as I had already made sure of my own luck by visiting him the evening before.
Between miles 6 and 7 we got to run past some of the faster runners heading for the finish in the opposite direction, including a couple dressed as a bride and groom (who are getting married next weekend - how cute is that?!) and a rock band.
I had really expected everything to fall apart somewhere around the 7-9 mile mark. I knew there was one last climb along the side of Arthur's Seat at 8 miles, which I had really been dreading, but in the end I barely noticed it - the hills in the town were far worse! And the absolute best bit of the course was still to come - a completely downhill final mile which ended up being my fastest of the race! I absolutely flew down the finishing straight and crossed the finish line (where LH was, of course, waiting) with a fist pump and the biggest smile on my face! My chip time was 1:45:26 - a real surprise given my uneven training and very exciting given all the hills.
I've run a few 10ks before, but I have never been so happy to put my medal around my neck as I was after my first 10-miler - I wish I could wear it to work! I'm already thinking about how much quicker I might be able to run the same race next year, and I'm busy planning bigger and better things in the future - I think my first half marathon is on the cards!